The Aquino administration has failed to address the problem of poverty, according to Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“Nais nilang ipagpatuloy ang kasalukuyang sitwasyon na laganap pa rin ang kahirapan. Marami ang nagugutom. At milyun-milyon ang naghahanap ng trabaho [They want to keep the situation at present where poverty is widespread. Many are hungry. And millions are looking for jobs],” Binay said in Cebu City during the Visayas-wide launching and oath-taking of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
The government has a big anti-poverty budget, he added, but the allocation is not spent or, if it is, it is not spent judiciously.”
Binay slammed the administration for failing to address the poverty incidence in the Visayas that worsened in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.
He cited the poverty level in Eastern Visayas region hitting 55 percent in 2014, compared to 45 percent in 2012.
Yolanda, a super typhoon, swept through the region in 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and missing and destroying billions in crops and property in Tacloban City, Leyte.
“Nakakalungkot at nakakabahala, dahil nariyan naman ang pera para tulungan ang ating mga kababayan ngunit hindi ito ginagastos ng lubusan. Nariyan din ang tulong mula sa maraming bansa at samahan na kailan lang ay naiulat na hindi nakarating sa ating mga kababayang dapat tulungan [It is saddening and alarming, the money is there to help our countrymen but it is not spent fully. Donations from other countries and concerned groups have been reported not to reach people in need],” Binay said.
It is not surpising, according to Binay, why the administration had a failing grade on issues of poverty, wages, inflation and social services.
The Vice President said the administration’s reluctance to reform the current tax system is a source of the people’s frustration.
“Filipinos pay the highest income tax in Asia. This hurts the Filipino worker the most,” he added.
Earlier, Binay said, pushing tax reforms will be pushed by his presidency, if he wins the 2016 elections.
“Kung hindi natin bababaan, kung hindi tayo gagawa ng reporma, darating ang araw na ang mga government workers, mga sundalo, mga trabahador sa pabrika, ay pareho lang ang ibabayad na buwis sa mga milyonaryong negosyante. Makata¬ru¬ngan ba yan [If we don’t lower taxes, time will come when government workers, soldiers and factory workers will be paying taxes that are as high as those paid by millionaire businessmen]?” he added.
Binay outlined three things that the country’s next leaders should immediately resolve.
“[One, extricate the country from poverty. Second, give jobs to the unemployed millions. Three, improve delivery of basic services to the people],” he said.
With the serious problems faced by the country, Binay asked whether it is fair to leave matters with the inexperienced and the unprepared.
According to the Vice President, the people are yearning for a government that is not cruel to the poor and insensitive to its needs.
The UNA standard-bearer in next year’s polls, he also slam¬med the Aquino administration’s slow and inefficient disaster and crisis management style, saying these are the hallmarks of daang matuwid (straight path) mantra of Malacañang.
Citing figures from Social Watch Philippines, Binay said there are still 130,000 families who are victims of calamities and remain homeless.
In a recent hearing by the Senate committee on planning, housing and resettlement on the government’s rehabilitation efforts, National Housing Administration General Manager Sinforoso Pagun¬san said only 16,544 houses had been completed out of the 205,128 housing units targeted by the NHA.
Meanwhile, two survivors of Yolanda, an old man and an eight-month-old baby, recently died because of dismal conditions at the government tent city and bunkhouses where thousands of families displaced by the typhoon continue to stay.
Binay asked the Aquino administration why it has been very slow in releasing the funds allotted for the resettlement of calamity victims.
The problem, according to the Vice President, is the “slow analysis by paralysis” that governs disbursements made by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
For example, Binay said, of the P75 billion for housing resettlement, only P21 billion has been released by the DBM.
Rico Quicho, a lawyer and the Vice President’s spokesman on political affairs, called to task former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd for slow implementation of Yolanda housing projects.
Citing data from Social Watch Philippines to which former national treasurer Leonor Briones belongs, Quicho said only P47 billion of the committed funds of P167 billion for the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan has been released.
The United Nations, in a report released recently, said the Aquino administration had failed to build decent and sufficient permanent housing for internally displaced persons (IDPs) who survived Yolanda.
“I was concerned to learn that funding shortfalls and political challenges, including inadequate cooperation between national and local governments, are delaying processes toward achieving durable solutions,” said Chaloka Beyani, UN special rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs who visited the country July 21-31.